Joe Kennedy, Venezuela link up to bring fuel to Massachusetts poor

Joe Kennedy is at it again. He is confounding much of the oil industry, and becoming very popular among some grateful Massachusetts residents who are faced with choosing between heat or food this winter.

For the second year, 29-year-old Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has acquired oil from the government of Venezuela that will be sold at cost to Massachusetts for distribution under the state's fuel assistance program. Some 25,000 low-income families are expected to receive from $325-to-$ 750 worth of home heating oil this winter, largely due to the efforts of Mr. Kennedy's nonprofit Citizens Energy Corporation (CEC).

Actually, the CEC doesm make a profit -- and that's the beauty of it. When the Venezuelan crude is processed, at a refinery in Puerto Rico, the residue fuels are sold to the refiner. a large chunk of those revenues are then plowed back into alternative energy projects in Venezuela and other poor countries in Central and South America.

The reason the CEC's efforts have stretched beyond the shores of the Massachusetts Bay is simple, and ideological: The young organization says that for decades industrial nations have burgeoned through the use of cheap oil from countries such as Venezuela.Meanwhile, these poor countries are watching their valuable natural resources being sapped by large oil companies, at the expense of their own economies.

So, while the CEC operates as any other international oil business in acquiring and selling oil, its methods are a little different. It seeks to avoid the exploitation of oil-producing countries by planning and financing alternative energy projects in these nations. That, in turn, will ease their dependence on oil, encourage conservation of valuable native resources, help struggling nations become self-sufficient, and provide technology that may help raise the standard of living. Venezuela's average annual income is $2,910.

Twenty-five percent of CEC's profits have been committed to projects in Costa Rica and Jamaica alone.

Hence, young Kennedy and his pioneering group have become heroes not only in Massachusetts but near the equator. But at a press conference Monday celebrating the arrival of Venezuela oil to the Bay state, Kennedy said the major oil companies are "not too excited" about the CEC's efforts and accused them of "trying to poison the waters in Venezuela."

Despite the resistance, the possibility of expanding the CEC's efforts looks promising. "We've received inquiries from almost every other state," Kennedy said. "The trouble is in getting these long-term crude contracts . . . but that's something we're working on."

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